The Path

“If you can see your path laid out in front of you step by step, you know it’s not your path. Your own path you make with every step you take. That’s why it’s your path.” – Joseph Campbell

The Healing Threshold

I’m stuck within

the healing threshold

drowning in grief.

Too stubborn

to turn back,

too tired 

to move on.

Sacred scars

raised, I lick

to quench

a November thirst.

Navigation bleak

across the silken 

land to peace.

Sister moon,

give me your light;

a blister in this bitter air,

as once again

with head down

and heart up,

I set forth

into becoming adrift.

Reading and Writing, Writing and Reading

A few weeks ago, when I was in the thick of my separation and wondering how I was going to get through the rest of 2020, I made a commitment to myself to designate October as a creative retreat month. I’m not going anywhere, but I am protecting my time to retreat from the world and outside commitments in order to focus on my creative practice.

Due to circumstances, I’ve allowed things to get lost in transition. Focusing on what brings me joy, like reading and writing and creating haven’t been top of my list for ages, it feels. So protecting October, my favourite month of the year, my birth month, as time and space to re-engage with my creative projects and start some new ones felt right for me.

Only a few days into October, and I was inspired in a poetry workshop to attempt #thesealychallenge. This challenge is to read thirty-one poetry books or chapbooks in the thirty-one days of August. I know it’s October but I’m coming late to the party. But I feel this is just what I need to relight my fire, put pen to paper and write poetry.

So far this month, I’ve read 5 poetry collections and chapbooks. What I’m doing while reading is also collecting words, single words which I like the sound of, or I find are being used in new and usual ways. Words that stir my interest and create a reaction.

What this reading is doing is inspiring me to write again. So from just reading other people’s work, immersing myself in the world of poetry again, I’ve created 6 new poems. So I’m going all the way this time, and trying for 31 poems by the end of the month; 31 poems in 31 days.

This has already gotten me through a block, a fear that was starting to take hold of me that I might be only able to write while in crisis, while in an unhappy state. But by producing something over the last few days, I’ve now put that fear to rest. I’m back, reading and writing, writing and reading.

Nature Writing Workshops

Action for Insects Appeal

A special two-part creative workshop to develop new and exciting ways of observing and capturing your experiences with nature (especially our smallest creatures), led by Dr Sheree Mack, Writer in Residence at Northumberland National Park.

Event details

Date

Thursday 8 October 10:30 – 12:00

Thursday 22 October 10.30-12.00

About the event

Inspired by our Action for Insects campaign, the group workshop (run virtually via Zoom) involves two 1.5 hour sessions (8th and 22ndOctober) to learn more about the fascinating and vital world of insects, and how you can help protect them in our region. The campaign is aimed at reversing the decline of our smallest creatures, of which 41% of species currently face extinction.     

Dr Mack, will help develop your creative techniques, guiding you through a variety of ways to observe nature using words, imagery and audio to bring your experiences to life. Between workshops, you’ll be encouraged to collect your own experiences of the natural world, then you’ll have the chance to share these with the group, gaining feedback and insight into the journeys of yourself and others.     

Anyone over 18 can join, so if you enjoy flexing your creative flair, want to find new ways of connecting to nature, or simply want the chance to meet and share experiences with others from the safety of your own home, then this workshop is for you!

For more details and to book click here.

Summer Writing Intensive

Many moons ago, I went to Washington State to visit a new friend, Sarah Spaeth, who I met while picking grapes on Monteleone in Lazio, Italy. That was over 10 years Aga now and we’ve been friends ever since. We’ve had some adventures in the States, over here in Scotland and also Iceland.

While I was in residence with the Jefferson Land Trust, where Sarah was the Executive Director at the time, I fell in love with Fort Walden which was just down the road from where I was staying. It’s a national park with the sea, beach and trees and a creative centre, called Centrum.

I remember Sarah talking about this centre while in Italy and how much I would love it there and to come and see. She was right, I felt right at home there. And when I took my family over there, we spent plenty of hours hanging out there. It was my dream to sometime return and do a writing retreat there, or attend their summer writing program.

The summer writing program is just like going back to college for a week. Writing workshops in the morning and afternoon and then evening readings. To be immersed in writing for a whole week, with other writers, bliss. Obviously this year, it’s had to be cancelled. So instead they’re offering a Summer Writing Intensive but virtually. The next best thing. And something I could so attend.

So I am, starting tomorrow, I’m going to writing college and going to spend the week in poetry and fiction workshops. Go to some readings in the evening, but totally live the writer’s life and I do so from the comfort of my own home. And what’s even neater is that I’ve been given a scholarship to take part for which I am so grateful.

So apologies not is you don’t see me here next week, as I’ll be soaking up the writing atmosphere and vibes from across the pond.

 

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June Readings

I’ve started, so I’ll finish. My thoughts when I think about coming here to record my readings for last month; June. This is the only way I’m keeping track of what I’m reading in terms of books, and when I started I felt it would be a worthwhile pursuit. Something to look back at, at the end of the year, and be proud at the achievement. At the fact of reading so many books. I didn’t set a target I don’t think. But forgive if I’m wrong as January feels so far away now. And thank God for this practice as I can’t remember what I read back then. Or even last month if I think about it. Hence being here now, before any more days of July rolls by and I haven’t marked down what books I read in June.

So here is the list of completed reads. And I’ve got so many other books on the go at the moment that I won’t be able to share them all, but I’ll share a smattering of them to give you an idea. There have been times when it’s been difficult to concentrate on a long read. I’d read a chapter and then skip off to do something else, or read something else. Concentration and focus have been elusive. I think that’s where poetry collections come into play. Quick and easy and brief.

Books read this month:

1. Horses Make a Landscape Look More Beautiful by Alice Walker

2. Mama Amazonica by Pascal Petit

3. Between the Islands by Philip Gross

4. Hare Soup by Dorothy Molloy

5. Ledger by Jane Hirshfield

6. Postcolonial Love Poem by Natalie Diaz

7. The Creative Doer by Anna Lovid

Books in progress this month:

1. Overstory by Richard Powers

2. Becoming by Michelle Obama

3. Grassling by Elizabeth-Jane Burnett

4. The Sea Inside by Philip Hoare

5. Seeing the Body by Rachel Eliza Griffiths

6. Ecotherapy: Healing with nature in mind edited by Linda Buzzell and Craig Chalquist

Writing Elsewhere

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Since May, I’ve been sharing my writing on Medium. This is a platform I’ve tired a number of times before but for some reason the habit just didn’t stick. I now know this probably had something to do with having nothing really to say. But now I do.

I’ve been contributing to the Binderful Blog, which a small online community of women, started a few years ago, which offers classes to support women questioning their lives. Maybe shaking up the status quo from the kitchen table outwards. I’m due to create a class with Binderful but in the meantime, I’ve been writing on Medium for them.

If you’re interested in checking out what I’ve shared so far then click below to read the articles.

Learning to be Inside

Comfort Reading

Pandemic Food Ways: A Little Sweet Treat

Waiting To Be Allowed In

My Voice is my Weapon

It hurts living on our knees

The Streets are Talking

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Image credit – Clay Banks

The streets are on fire.
Smoke coats our tongues
like iron in our blood.

We walk for our rights
as weedy paths like barbed
wire lacerate our ankles.

God is in our shouts.
Demands for justice pour
forth smelling of lilies.

Winds of hope on the horizon
are felt like cherry blossom,
delicate and beautiful

but not short lived.